Sunday, July 31, 2011

Falling in love with runny egg yolks

I wasn't born in Oklahoma, it doesn't take a native Okie very long to figure that out.  For a long time I resisted new foods and phrases and tried very hard to preserve my northern-ness.  You know that age old phrase "If you can't beat em, join em?"  I always thought that joining em meant giving up who you were and becoming someone foreign to you.  This isn't entirely true, you do become someone completely different but it's a process that is completed over your lifetime in bits, pieces and daily surrenders.  

I have measured my comfort with my new state through food.  When I first got here I wouldn't have touched beans and cornbread with a ten foot pole.  Now I make it on a regular basis, because it's delicious, comforting and costs about $6.  I have even successfully attempted my first brisket and receive multiple compliments every time I make iced tea.  You may all be impressed... now.

I have developed a major girl crush on Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman.  I read her blog and plan to have a week dedicated to cooking her recipes exclusively.  I have her to thank for my new found love of sheet cake and egg in a hole.  Thanks to her eggs over easy are now on the table and savored with gusto.  So, am I becoming a full fledged Oklahoma girl?  Lawdy no!  But I am adopting pieces of Oklahoma that will stay with me wherever I go.  Things even more life changing than cornbread and runny egg yolks.

Have you ever thought about what would happen if you introduced 30 year old you with 15 year old you?  Lets bite the bullet, round up and say that I am 30 for this post.  I may as well be.  If 15 year old me knew that 30 year old me would be a full time mom living in Oklahoma and riding next to a Pastor in a mini van, she would be shocked and disgusted.  Simply because she would be completely unable to see the steps that led from 15 to 30, and I would never want to fill her in on all those steps at once, it would be more than anyone could handle.  

The long and short of it is that you have to be where you are and bring who you are into play.  To break that sentence down, you won't bring anything but misery on yourself and those around you if you endlessly complain about your current circumstances.  A little complaining is probably okay, we are only human, but you have to pick yourself up and play the hand you were dealt.  And your circumstances are just waiting for you to happen to them.  If God put you somewhere he wants you to unleash all that he made you to be wherever you are.  Even if where you are is over an hour from the nearest Panera bread and is still over 90 degrees at ten PM.  (see a little complaining is human...)

So If you wake up this morning somewhere you never thought you would be, take a deep breath, own your life and be exactly who God made you to be exactly where God put you.  Make a big pot of beans and cornbread, or better yet make something uniquely you and bring it to someone who could use a little you in their life.  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

a prayer of no guarantees

A few items of business:
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Now on to the meat of something that has been tumbling in my head a long time, waiting to be polished.

Today my 2 year old daughter smacked my 6 month old son in the face with a large cardboard block. Pretty hard too. She didn't mean it, she was just twirling with helicopter arms and got too close to his face and boom, impact. Had I seen it coming I would have interceded, and I often save him from sore toes or well intended hug smotherings. However, as much as I love every square inch of him I can't block every shot.

I absolutely love my two kids, I hope this isn't a big secret to anyone in my life either online or otherwise. When I take a look back at all the junk and pain I have gone through with my immediate family one of my first instincts is to figure out a way to make sure that nothing like that ever happens to my precious boy and girl. I want to keep them physically safe. I buy top of the line car seats and follow safety standards to the letter. I also want to keep them emotionally safe and I want to do everything I can to make sure that they don't lose their parents as early or as tragically as I did. I lost my Dad at the age of 49 to heart disease and so along those lines I eat very little red meat, drink red wine and pay close attention to my blood pressure and cholesterol levels. My mom died from mental Illness and so I go to counseling, stay active, and I try to keep a good pulse on my emotional well being so that I can catch any problems early.

I'm a realist, I know I can't protect them from all hurts but I guess I wish for them the bare minimum. I want them to appreciate the depth of life, with its highs and lows, but I do pray that God shields them from the big and rare hurts. The ones that only befall a few.

This is my prayer for my children, and in a way it is my prayer for everyone I love.

My dear precious ones, until you are parents you will not understand how much I treasure you. I delight in your bright eyes and endless energy even on my worst days. Your curly hair and huge smiles have made me thankful to a level I never knew possible. I want to put a hedge around all of us to guarantee that this innocent joyful living will last forever. It is with a heavy heart that I need to let you in on one of life's more painful secrets. There is no hedge that will keep out pain, brokenness and loss.

This brokenness is the reason I can't give you the gift of knowing your grandparents. However, I am deeply dedicated to helping you know who they were so you can carry parts of them with you as you bring your own unique gifts into this world.

I am doing everything in my human capacity to keep you safe from things that try to break you both physically and emotionally. I am coming to the edge of the realization that my love and precautions can't keep the breaks from happening to you. So I am jumping in and rethinking my strategy. A life with no pain isn't really living and so for you I pray just enough pain to appreciate the joy. I know you will have disappointments, failures, and breakups and I will be there for all of those tears. I pray that as much as possible you learn well from the mistakes of myself and others so you can avoid some of life's potholes. I pray that I have the strength to let you fall on occasion, so you can learn how to pick yourself back up. Above all else I pray that God protects you from the thousands of things I worry may befall you. I will do my best to lead you into situations that will give you a knowledge of your powerful and loving God, and that your Dad and I will model trust in him through the way we live our lives. I pray that you will trust in the love of God as you discover it in relationship with him, through his beautiful creation and through interacting with the people whose lives intersect yours.

I will be around as long as I possibly can, and while I am I will do everything in my power to point to a God who will sustain you more than I ever could. Gods love, grace, and providence are the ultimate healers. If you go to him for your truth and healing, you will weather any storm that this "no guarantees" world throws your way.

Amen and Amen.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

lawnmower love or lack thereof

I was raised in a Dutch family and If you are from a dutch area you will know that the Dutch as notorious for being thrifty, frugal and well... cheap. My Dad couponed before it was cool, and when I say he couponed I mean he had two laundry baskets full of coupon packets, which he cataloged in bundles. He was known for being paid to take toothpaste and hamburger helper off the grocery store's hands. Hardcore. Somehow I dodged the frugal gene and I am actually having to learn to be more thrifty with my money. Along these lines when we needed a new lawnmower this spring instead of heading down to the John Deer dealership we cruised the streets of out hometown looking for a used mower that we could adopt as our very own. And it was through these means that Murray the mower came to live in our garage.

Here is the thing about Murray, although he is a mower he has a strange aversion to mowing our lawn. Murray prefers to come out of the garage, pretend to gear up for a marathon session of clipping the grass, but then he peters out and prefers to sun himself in the front yard. Murray the mower is clearly not tuned in to the purpose he was made for. Maybe I need to start playing some inspirational books on tape about purpose and calling in the garage to get him on the right track.

I have the right to not like Murray, he isn't cute, he always wants a new battery and he does not pull his weight around here. I have expectations of mowing from Murray and when he doesn't meet them I am entitled to be crabby about it. Through his antics however I have learned a very important lesson. Although I don't have to give grace to Murray I do need to have grace for the guy riding Murray and trying to coax him to mow. If that guy has had a busy week and I start nagging him about shaggy grass I have lost perspective, haven't I?

People are not lawnmowers, you have to love them whether or not they are doing what you think they should be doing. This doesn't mean that my husband gets to lay around, do nothing for our family and I have to be okay with it. He would never do that, that's not being faithful to Gods call to show us love, love is a two way street but at the same time its not conditional.

I have to learn to love people more than what they produce. I can't treat my family and friends like I treat Murray. I need to love the person God created them to be above all else. Out of that kind of love they can draw energy to follow God's call on their life. I don't need to chase them down with motivational matnras and advice, I need to support and listen to where they are at. God is more than capable of teaching and correcting them, and life doles out enough tough love that they don't need it from me. I need to be more of a harbor than a harpy.

Loving the product more than the person robs both of you of the relationship you really want to have because no one signs up to be loved like a lawnmower. But you get distracted and selfish so sometimes you end up there. It comes from a mentality where you are more focused on what people are doing for you, rather than who you are being called to be in that relationship.

This kind of thinking can have a broad and drastic impact on your life because you begin to examine your approach to love in all your relationships. With my friends, family and those I minister to it is so easy for me to get side tracked and love the product more than the person. If you are looking for failures and reasons to walk away from people, our sinful nature will usually provide it in spade. But guess what? You provide reasons for them to walk away too.

So maybe you have a few relationships where you are loving people like lawnmowers, only if they start when you say so and mow with turn on a dime precision. We are all guilty of this from time to time, and I hope God reminds you as he did me of how he called us to love each other. He wants us to love us each like he loves us with reckless abandon, extravagantly and selflessly.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Sabbath struggles

Well I already did the devos post this week, I may as well go double cliche and talk about Sabbath while I'm at it.

Why is Sabbath so hard for us as Americans? When I was a kid the adults around me were often overly legalistic about the should and should-nots of Sundays, and now that I am adult it seems as if there are no rules or regulations at all. I guess we should have stopped somewhere in between 1988 and now. But we didn't.

A few moments ago I was lounging on the couch laying out our Sunday in my head. Shockingly we have no commitments tomorrow other than church, so honoring the Sabbath should be a piece of cake. I am even planning on honoring a long standing family Sunday tradition, that of Sunday dinner. Which is actually lunch, but we call it dinner even though we eat it around 1:00 in the afternoon. It consists of a roasted meat, potatoes, anywhere from 3-7 side dishes, a jello salad and then dessert. Then you lay on the couch and don't move until Monday morning. This enforces Sabbath rest because you've eaten so much you have no other choice. With all this in place I still find myself tempted to schedule in no Sabbath activities for tomorrow like mowing, filing and closet-organization

So I guess the point I have to come to is what does a healthy respect of God's call to Sabbath look like for us? I know that God doesn't want us to be legalistic about it but I also know that it should look different than the other six days of the week. I've been to bible school, I've done some reading, some listening and some general thinking on this subject of Sabbath and this is what I have come up with. You may disagree or feel called to add to this list, and I can honestly say I respect that. However I do encourage you to focus more on what you should do on Sabbath rather than what you shouldn't.

1) Set aside some time to focus on God- Typically this could be church but I fully endorse non traditional means of focusing on God as well. Someday I would love to go to a monastery and meditate (this will likely kill me) or spend my Sunday morning worshiping God by simply breathing in a mountain view. Whatever you do, draw near to him and breath in his word, his teaching. Lift your heart and your hands in worship to his faithfulness over this past week and commit the upcoming week to him as well.

2) Don't produce anything you don't need to- My favorite example of navigating Sabbath in regards to work-load came from Rob Bell at least five years ago during my time at Mars Hill and it has stuck with me. He said "imagine yourself in your backyard, sitting in a chair and enjoying a sunny Sunday afternoon and you see a weed growing in your flowerbed. Today, don't pull it, it will be there tomorrow." God must have known our propensity to over commit and overwork ourselves. So he commanded, not requested, us to take a day where we live in the knowledge that he didn't create us to be machines, but to be unique extensions of himself. So I may wash a few of the dishes that we create on Sunday, or pick up the blocks in the playroom, but I don't launder, I don't weed, and I don't organize.

3) It's okay to enjoy who God made you to be- Here is the part where a lot of people get hung up. What is and is not okay to DO on the Sabbath? Where I grew up the cardinal sin was mowing your lawn on Sunday. But what if lawn care was your most passionate and enjoyable hobby? A lot of Jewish families don't cook a thing on the Sabbath because they consider it sinful, but what if cooking for the people you love and enjoying a big meal together fills your heart to overflowing? The long and short of it is that God created us each with unique passions and hobbies and pouring these things out is worshipful to him. So if you love to cook and mow, then go for it. If you like to stroll with family, lace up your Asics and enjoy. Worship God through being you and don't be quick to judge other people's Sabbath activities.

4) Community- There are thousand ways to say it, No man is an island, birds of a feather flock together and all that jazz. However, the long and short of it is that God created us for each other as well as for himself. I heard it said once that we recognize the God in each other and think that is exactly right. So from my corner I think that enjoying time with the people you love is an essential part of Sabbath rest and it's easy to do when you incorporate the first three suggestions.

So: Worship & draw near to God + rest + be you + be with the people you love = Sabbath

In my 29.5 years this is what I have come up with in regards to Sabbath wisdom, take it or leave it.

Why am I always fighting so hard against this day? Oh yeah... I am hopelessly human, so are you. Luckily I have another grace filled Sabbath at my disposal and hey... so do you.

In case you're wondering the number of times I used the word Sabbath in this post is 15.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Throwing out why: another call to devos

I have a confession to make to you that may send you running in the other direction, never to visit this blog again. I love mornings, I am a cheery bathrobe wearing, coffee loving, oatmeal making morning person. There I said it. Also I am weirdly fascinated by morning routines. If it weren't a weird question, I would regularly ask people about their morning routine. Morning routines typically fall into two categories: The lingerers and the leavers. The lingerers (which is where I fall) like a good couple hours to get their day in order, make breakfast, take a shower, do some quiet time and build a solid base to their day. The leavers have calculated down to the second how much time it takes them to do the bare minimum amount of a.m. prep needed to leave the house. Then they take that time and use it to set their alarm for the last possible minute.

I used to have a morning routine that involved getting out the door, but now I have a baby and a preschooler and all bets are off. It's not new that you need to put God into your morning routine. Honestly, for so long I have used my kids and their completely unpredictable a.m. shenanigans as an excuse. I was never faithful with my quiet time before kids but now it's ridiculous. I actually feel like I avoid it intentionally. And often if I am up first I choose to do the dishes, turn on the Today Show, hop on facebook, fold laundry and all manner of other tasks before I meet with God.

Why in the name of bacon and eggs do I struggle to put God before dishes and Matt Lauer in the morning? Why is it so hard to line up my actions with my beliefs? I have thought about this for a while and come up with all manner of possible answers. In the end though I consistently land in the same place. I have found deep wisdom and I will share it with you here and now. Here goes: A lot of times in life "why" doesn't matter. Groundbreaking stuff, isn't it? Why it's hard for me to make time for God isn't near as important as how I am going to do it anyway. I think sometimes we use an unanswered "why" as an excuse to avoid things we are called to do in our lives.

Why is it so hard for me to stop eating fast food and go for a walk? Doesn't matter do it anyway
Why is it so hard for me to turn off the TV and talk to my spouse? It's a button, push "off" and talk about your day.
Why is it so hard for me to stop playing angry birds? You need to leave this question for the archaeologists that study our culture a thousand years from now. No one knows the answer and pondering it is futile. Stop putting your self-worth in golden eggs.

So I am taking the suck it up approach. I moved my bible app to first place on my phone and I left the dishes in the sink. I signed up for a very easy and quick reading plan, because I know that I need to crawl before I run. I did still make the coffee first, for me quiet time is better with coffee and since God made java, I feel he understands. The long and the short of it is, I stopped making excuses and I am doing it anyway.

All conditions don't have to be perfect when you meet with God, and perfect attendance isn't all that important. I almost didn't want to write this because I feel like the world doesn't need another "do your devos" blog post. But what we do need is time in our lives to learn to love to being in the company of our Father. Maybe, if you are like me, you need to fall in love with his presence again. So instead of feeling guilty right now, maybe we can feel a passionate resolve to rediscover the beauty of relationship and connection.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

You are a quilt


Up to this point in my life I haven't really enjoyed quilts. I like things a certain way with an easily identifiable color scheme. Quilts are usually straight crazy and made up of every color and pattern imaginable. But what I am learning about quilts is that they are almost always full of love and memories. Kels grandma made us one and it is a typical rainbow explosion type quilt, and I have no idea where to put it since doesn't really "go" in any room. I have taken to using it as a blanket for our kids to play on and it goes perfectly with their multicolored toys and serves as a reminder of how much I need to un-bunch my neurotic panties. I mean seriously.

The thing is that life is like a quilt, it is also like a box of chocolates, but today we are talking about how it's like a quilt. You can't pick one person on earth to pattern your life after and you shouldn't have just one mentor to learn from. Life gives us a variety of people and sources from which we glean knowledge. This is just one of the things that makes us exquisitely unique.

Case in point, I have a fabulous friend named Jenni, and I love to gather advice from her for many different areas of life from kids to cooking to marriage. God has given me a beautiful friend and mentor in her. Jenni and I both arrived home in the last 24 hours from long road trips. As I was nearing home I asked her how she was liking being home, and she said something to the effect of home is where her family is and that she would travel all the time if she could. At first I thought that since I respect Jenni's opinion perhaps I should love travelling more. But you know what? No. I have found that I like to travel sin between stretches of steady routine at home. I need a routine to break, otherwise I get anxious and irritable. I am not trying to be a Jenni clone, God doesn't need another Jenni. So I take our conversations and quilt some of it into my life.

My life philosophy is a quilting of many different sources from friends and family to books and songs and they all make up the texture of my life. I enjoy identifying and appreciating my sources. And, I hope, I am contributing to the quilts of those around me. And so in this way we are all growing side by side in rich and vibrant ways.

So who are your sources for patterns and textures? And who is taking scraps of you into your life? Take a quiet moment to be thankful and intentional for these sources. If it is a person, thank them and if it is a book or song, pass it on. What comes to your mind? I would love to hear about your quilt.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Failing follower

My husband is an amazing dancer, he took several semesters of ballroom in college and was even asked to compete on the University of Oklahoma's ballroom dancing team. He also can cook, likes to go to musicals and on the more testosteroney side of the coin he can build a fence and change the oil in a car. Yes, I am aware that I hit the husband jackpot.

Last night at my cousin's wedding we hit the dance floor, not super serious waltzing or tango-ing but something light and casual. I must admit that I am the perfect counterpart to my husband, in that I have two left feet which become even clumsier in high heels after a few glasses of wine. But I dance almost constantly regardless. Back to last night, we were dancing and spinning away when my husband caught my eye, pulled me close and said "so, are you ever going to trust me to lead? You insist on spinning yourself, when I promise you you'll have more fun and spin plenty if you would follow my lead."

The object lesson that can be drawn from this brief conversation isn't hidden too deeply and it struck me on a marriage level and on a God level almost instantaneously. Dancing is an amazing image for life because it requires little steps that add up to something extraordinary and unique. It struck me how very little I trust a leader in my life's dance.

Metaphorically I get out on the dance floor, get excited about a song and immediately buy into the belief that if I don't shake my tail feather, twirl and throw my hands up in the air sometimes, good times won't come my way. I have adapted in such a way that following a leader and trusting someone else to navigate my steps has become a revolutionary concept to me. I don't think I am alone in this. I think many of us believe that if we don't lead the dance, it's not going to go anywhere.

I have some big ideas on the horizon of my life, and I hope that you do too. I am feeling called to new tasks, people and places. But Ironically even though I feel a call, I don't trust the caller to lead me through the dance at all. Deep down I am coming to realize that I believe that only I can lead myself to happiness. Which is prideful, dangerous and kinda dumb.

So, are you struggling to follow a leader in some aspect of your life? Or maybe you're like me and you're struggling to think of an aspect of your life where you succeed in following at all. The next step in mastering the dance is to admit it, and to talk to someone about it. Certainly pray about it and keep exposing that truth about yourself so you can stare it in the face and put it in its rightful place, which is probably in the garbage can on the curve.

I am coming to realize in my heart that the leader of the dance can take me to graceful and beautiful places that I can't shimmy my way into alone.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

snapshot


No excuses, I have been shamefully absent from writing in this space. In my defense I have been in every state in the midwest, but still, I am sorry.

As I write I'm sitting in a sanctuary of sorts for me, Panera Bread. I take great delight in working on my laptop while enjoying a bagel and a cup of a smooth hazelnut coffee. This morning I chose a table that I spent countless hours at in college studying, reading and wasting time on facebook. My thoughts drift back to my friends Alyssa and Cassie who were battling college alongside me and were often my amigos at this table in the loft of the Grandville Panera.

As I sit here I am working on my cousin's slideshow for her wedding in two days. I am so thrilled to be here to celebrate with her and her new Husband Ryan and I find such amazing perspective in looking through picture of them from birth to their engagement photo shoot a few months ago. There is something grounding about looking through snapshots that span the life of someone you love. We often do this at the biggies, you know birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings and funerals. Watching the screen as a person changes in pictures from a pink brand new baby to a ethereally beautiful bride never ceases to astound me. And so many of the moments on the screen were just days in the life of that person. Many of the memories we collect in our lives are so random aren't they? You and the people you interact with daily never know when you are forming a memory that will place itself permanently in the memory of your life.

A little ordinary moment from my childhood, just three little girls on a picnic table in matching teddy bear sweatshirts that turned out to be the kind of picture you put in a frame on your piano and in a wedding slideshow.

My good friend Becky says that she measures a photo by whether or not it is wedding slideshow worthy and will often rank my kids pictures by this standard. It is so beautiful that the little moments you and I will have today are brushstrokes on the canvas of each other's life. Doesn't it make you want to breathe in today a little deeper? For me I want to look at life in this way more often, not just at the biggie slideshow worthy events but on a random Wednesday morning. To look at my marriage and the lives of my children with awe and respect. What we are building with our hours and days is monumental and these lives we lead make a deeper impact on the world than we will ever now.

I start today with awe and more than anything a deep gratitude and respect that I have been given the gift of being a wife, a mother, a sister, a niece and a friend.
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